October 17, 2017

Posted May 4, 2012 by D. K. Holm

Marvel’s The Avengers is the perfect example of the Efficient Market theory of business investing applied to movie storytelling.
You are familiar with the Efficient Market theory of business investing aren’t you? Oh. Well, the Efficient Market theory of business investing states that a block of stocks in a portfolio are self-correcting in a way that gives the investor a dependable return. If you buy two or three company’s stocks your income – and your emotions – will ride high and low as the market shifts dramatically over time. On the other hand, if you invest in a wide range of companies across the board of, say, the S&P 500, individual companies that decline will be compensated by different companies that rise in response to market shifts. The more the merrier, basically.1

Thanks to Marvel’s The Avengers we now see how the Efficient Market theory of business investing also applies to super hero comic book adaptations.

Think of it this way. Individually, each of the movies featuring The Avengers singly were, not to put too fine a point on it, shit. The two Iron Man films had slightly amusing performances by Robert Downey, Jr., but were chaotic and CGI-dependent tales. In fact, the second film was so bad that even the filmmakers knew it. Apparently the whole last third of that entry had to be re-thought and re-shot. Thor also got a dull story and the film was almost totally miscast. The various Hulks have been bad, to the degree that they can’t even settle on an actor to play him. Ang Lee’s Hulk, with Eric Bana, proved that comic book adaptations was yet another genre that Lee didn’t understand, along with westerns, kung fu, domestic dramas, and everything else he’s done. I didn’t see the Edward Norton Hulk – but then, no one else did, either. Captain America was also just simply dull – schematic, pro forma, and lacking any of the emotional nuance and strife of the source comics.2Most important, all of these movies had about as much to do with the original Marvel comic books as vermouth does to a martini.


As a measure of how much better Marvel’s The Avengers works, Mark Ruffalo is terrific – finally! – as the Hulk. And taken as a group as opposed to a selection of single stories, the team of actors work well together.3 There is the addition of Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner); and Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff – Black Widow has slightly more to do this time around than she had in Iron Man; but the theme, in these economic down times, is “working together” as if these story were about London during the Blitz. Marvel’s The Avengers is better than the sum of its parts – if its parts are the lousy Marvel adaptations that preceded it.

1 The Efficient Market theory of business investing is fully elucidated in Burton G. Malkiel’s A Random Walk Down Wall Street.

2 Since Chris Pine plays both the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four films, and Captain America as well, having the Four interact with the Avengers would prove problematic – not that movie makers care about such things (he’d probably play a dual part, à la Winklevoss).

3 Except for Samuel L. Jackson, whose shtick is getting old and anyway, is miscast as Nick Fury.